We Deserve Better: Tell Kraft To Stop Using Dangerous Artificial Colors in Our Mac & Cheese

Pin It

Hi there, this is Lisa Leake from 100DaysofRealFood.com and Vani Hari from FoodBabe.com. We recently discovered that several American food products contain harmful additives that are not used – and in some cases banned – in other countries. One of those products is an iconic staple that almost every American, us included, has had at one time or another: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

In the US, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese contains the artificial food dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. These unnecessary – yet potentially harmful – dyes are not in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in other countries, including the UK, because they were removed due to consumer outcry. Kraft reformulated their product for the UK, but not for their fellow American citizens, and it’s time we demand the same here in the US!
-

We are petitioning Kraft to remove all artificial food dyes
from their line of macaroni and cheese products.

Kraft Yellow Food Dye Petition - 100 Days of Real Food

Kraft Foods is the largest food company headquartered here in the United States. If Kraft changes their Macaroni and Cheese formula, we know this could inspire other US food companies to follow suit and finally eliminate dangerous artificial food dyes once and for all.

Here are the reasons why Kraft needs to remove Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 from their entire line of Macaroni and Cheese:

Artificial food dyes…

To prove this last point we personally tested both the US and UK versions of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and found little difference in color and virtually no difference in taste (see for yourself in the video below).

So please…

  1. Go to our petition page and sign your name.
  2. Share our petition with your family and friends!
  3. Watch our video below to learn more about our mission (and see us taste test the two different mac & cheese products ourselves).

We both grew up eating this product – I even used to feed it to my kids – and it’s available at almost every grocery store across the country. Our kids deserve the same safer version that our friends get overseas!

Join us and demand this change by signing this petition now.

Thank you for all your support – together we can make a difference.

-
Now might be a good time to check out our homemade macaroni and cheese recipe!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!

222 comments to We Deserve Better: Tell Kraft To Stop Using Dangerous Artificial Colors in Our Mac & Cheese

  • Jackie

    Signed … I really wish the US would care about we are eating. If countries can do it we can. I feel more people need to be educated on this issue.

  • Tara

    I’m not sure where you got your info about the UK version of this, but we do NOT have this product in this country. I am a Canadian, and according to the internet, we Canuck’s buy this product more than any country in the world. Yes, we like our KD (Kraft Dinner we call it), so being the devotee I am (I know it is soooo unhealthy, but I like it for a treat every now and then) when I moved here I was very sad to see it is NOT sold in the UK.

    Proper imported Kraft M&C can be bought from the odd candy store that sells American imports (alongside Nerds and Reese Cups, etc), and I’ve seen it on a couple import website that specialize in seling American junk food, but they all charge exorbitant prices–http://www.americangrocery.co.uk/kraft-macaroni-cheese-206g-603-p.asp

    I googled this Kraft Cheesey Pasta in your photo and it is ONLY available on Amazon and Ebay–likely importing from the Middle East or something. Trust me, England would never put and E in CHEESY.

    So, I think your post is great. I am all about eating healthy and cutting processed foods (just the odd treat!), but I just think your comparison to the UK’s version is quite off. I have seen Wikipedia says it is called that in the UK, but remember, wiki is just written by anybody.

    Thank you for your great posts, though!

    • Tara

      Thanks for your reply. I understand your friend bought it here, but I’m guessing she did not by it in a mainstream grocery store, but at a store specializing in imports and such. This is definitely not a product in this country. I even went to the Kraft Foods website and it is not there, even in the Europe website. So I just don’t get where this information about ‘a public outcry’ came from! Or maybe it is available in Scotland or Ireland or something? But again, it is on no websites, only import websites and Amazon and Ebay. Even I have seen the American blue box variety in the UK, but in expat stores for insano prices! Sorry, I’m not trying to be awkward, just a bit surprised about the public outcry bit.

    • Sheila

      You probably eat that Kraft Dinner with ketchup too, don’t you! :)

      • Tara

        Haha, No i DO NOT eat with ketchup!! Never quite understood my friends that did/do! EWW!

        As for the other discussion going on here, I concede defeat. I certainly do not intend to undermine your petition. I think it is very noble and pro-active and great and I hope Kraft listens and follows through and other companies as well. I just wanted to make sure you had the facts straight so they couldn’t come back and say the product doesn’t exist here. It makes no sense to me why when I google the product it does not seem to exist, nor can i find it in any of the major shopping chains (in-store nor online). Very strange indeed. And i do a lot of my grocery shopping online, as well, and generally all products are listed there. Maybe they sell it up north or something. I’m clueless (but tempted to buy it on Amazon now that I know it is there!!!). haha.

        God bless you guys with your petition. I hope you have a great week best of luck! Make some change!

        • Thank you for that Tara. In reality this is not really about macaroni and cheese :) This is about removing an unnecessary ingredient from our food products that is not used in other countries and in America we thought macaroni and cheese would be a good place to start!

  • Lisa

    Thanks for taking a stand. It is time we come together and hold corporations accountable for what they put in the products they sell to America’s families. I try to educate my friends and their families to take the time to make real food, delicious food, but it’s a long road. I applaud the steps you are taking to speak out and provide information to those who may not know what is really going on in the world of corporate food giants. It is time we all speak out and change the way we feed our families…buy in bulk, grow some food, share some food, eat meals together, cook together, teach each other and be the change. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it does take some time and planning. It all begins with a small step and then before you know it, you’re hooked on real food! Let the journey begin…

  • Ellen

    I am all for fixing this problem but don’t you think if it is banned in other countries maybe there is a bigger stand than just Kraft? Why not petition for this to be a warning label on all our foods in the US? Just wondering?

    • Ellen – Because that would be A LOT harder to accomplish. Requesting change from a specific company regarding a specific product is actually attainable and since Kraft is the largest American food company others will (hopefully) follow their lead. I hope that makes sense.

  • April Nava

    Wow. This is great and so needed! Can you do Kellogg’s next? I got so upset when I found out that a lot of the Kellogg’s products are available, like Kraft, in other countries without the harmful food additives. So frustrating!

  • Deanna

    I would love to sign the petition, even though our family does not eat Kraft products, I wanted to sign the petition for people who do. However, I do not want to give out that much personal information. Good luck and it looks like you will reach your goal! I hope Kraft listens, not just with this one product.

    • B

      For those not wanting to give that information away on the petition you can always send a e-mail to the kraft company showing your support.

  • Critical Reader

    Lisa & Food Babe,

    is it for once possible, that you guys do the minimum amount of research before posting an article? Yellow 5 (tartrazine) is NOT banned in the European Union. It used to be banned in Germany and Austria, but the EFSA (European Food and Safety Authority) declared it as safe and the ban was hence overruled.

    In general I agree, Mac and Cheese (or virtually any other foods) do not need artificial (or natural) food dyes, and it is a shame that companies swamp the US market with that crap. However, I am getting tired of those alarming articles who blindly rely on information somewhere found on the www. Don’t we readers deserve some more effort on your part, i.e. that you cite some primary data and not some information found in 5-year old newspaper articles? How difficult is it to check the food dyes allowed in the EU?

    Greetings from the EU – we are currently struggling with horse meat found in processed food that was labeled as beef, cattle fed with thousands of tons of highly aflatoxin contaminated corn, and a large-scale relabeling of cheap eggs as organic eggs. Not to forget the mafia style olive oil scams we normally get to hear during silly season. I am not sure if Europe is really that good of an example….

    • Critical Reader – WHERE did we say Yellow 5 is “banned” in the entire European Union? Sounds like you need to do some closer reading/research yourself. Here is a quote directly from Kraft Foods UK (which backs up what we said about them PHASING IT OUT):
      “Kraft Foods UK has no products aimed at children that contain the ingredients highlighted in the FSA [Southampton] study. . . . [W]ith our recent Lunchables reformulation in the UK, we reduced fat and salt, as well as removed artificial colours and flavours. Without compromising quality, taste and food safety, we will continue to see where we can make changes and still meet consumer expectations.”—Kraft Foods UK

      • Rick

        Critical Reader did not post you claimed this.
        “WHERE did we say Yellow 5 is “banned” in the entire European Union?”

        They merely pointed out one country and ban was lifted. If this is factually incorrect, could you counter it please?

        What you said
        “that are not used – and in some cases banned – in other countries. One of those products is an iconic staple that almost every American, us included, has had at one time or another: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.”

        That is pretty all encompassing. If I read the poster’s response right, neither of them are currently banned.

        I agree with your sentiments. It should be a simple matter to switch to something with less health risks. Beta-carotene comes to mind as a reasonable substitution if they insist on the product being yellow/orange. Nothing wrong with white colored cheese sauce of course.

      • Critical Reader

        Lisa,

        I never wrote, that you claimed that yellow 5 was banned in the entire EU. However, you claim it is banned in Austria (I leave Norway out as it is not a member of the EU) and “phased out” in the UK. About 15 years ago, each European Union member country had its own food regulation, then food regulation was harmonized and member states now have to obey European law. As already said, the EFSA declared yellow 5 as safe, and hence it is allowed in the entire EU, including Austria and the UK. However, UK companies voluntarily (!) leave yellow 5 and some other dyes out of their products.

        • Critical Reader – I am not sure where you are going with this. Click the links above to check our sources. We spent a great deal of time putting this project together in an effort to affect POSITIVE change in the food industry. This post is about signing a petition to remove unnecessary artificial dyes from an iconic American food product. If you don’t agree and think artificial dyes are just fine in our food then don’t sign it (and move on) – it’s that simple. But trying to pick apart one of our claims (where the original source is documented above) adds absolutely no value to what could hopefully be a big step in the right direction for the American Food Industry. I see your frequent rebuttals on my blog posts and if you want to continue to post here I think it’s time you use your real name and picture rather than hide behind the “critical reader” persona. I willingly put myself out there with every single post I write, and its time you do the same if you want to continue to be part of the conversation.

          • Critical Reader

            Lisa, again, I agree with you, artificial and natural food dyes are for most products absolutely unnecessary. For that reason, I would support any initiative that approaches food companies and asks them to omit unnecessary dyes and other additives. But I would not support an initiative that is based on scare tactics, false claims and poor or even non-existent research. The end does not justify the means.

            Your following statements are clearly false and please correct me if you think I am wrong. The other statements are more a matter of debate, so I’ll leave them out for right now.

            “Artificial food dyes require a warning label in other countries outside the US” – The EU requires a warning label for its 6 allowed azo-dyes; the other 8 artificial dyes do not require a labeling. As a comparison, the US only allows 9 artificial food colorings, 3 of those (Yellow 5 and 6, Red 40) are azo-dyes and would require a warning under EU law.

            “Artificial food dyes have been banned in countries like Norway and Austria (and are being phased out in the UK)” – The EU allows more artificial food dyes (14) than the US (9). Narrowing the statement down to azo-dyes, see comments before.

            “Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 specifically are contaminated with known carcinogens” – the carcinogens you are referring to are aniline and benzidine; contamination with those is an issue for dyes used in clothing industry etc. but it does not seem to be an issue for food dyes: Lancaster & Lawrence (1999) are reporting trace amounts of benzidine in two food colorings.

            You do document your sources, but not a single one of them is a primary source. You publish so many good articles about nutrition in general, you wonderfully question old and often outdated believes, etc., but as soon as it comes to food regulatory and safety issues, you jump on to everything you can find on the www, without ever questioning what you are reading.

            Concerning your demand to disclose my name and picture, if I was called Lisa Smith and/or if I was a waiter/nurse/realtor/etc. I would be more than willing to do so. However, I am in the unfavorable condition of having a very unique name and calling Big Food/Big Agro my employers, so appearing publicly on this forum might not be a good choice for me. I got your message, you prefer readers that just press the “Like” button. Good luck with your campaign.

    • Cathie

      Critical Reader,
      Why do you read this blog? Your posts are ALWAYS to criticize and pick apart whatever is written. This blog is about real food. Clearly, you are not interested in that so please go troll somewhere else. I don’t always agree with everything posted, but I take what I want and then move on. I appreciate all the time Lisa and her team take to educate and encourage. I DON’T appreciate your constant belittling of Lisa and at times Vani.

      • Critical Reader

        Cathie, any type of critique I have expressed so far was well funded and documented. Please read my previous post and correct me, if I any of my issues raised are wrong. Yes, I have heavily criticized Vani’s last article and again, the critique I have expressed was well funded. In addition, many other readers have pointed out the deceptiveness of Vani’s last article.

        Why do I read this blog? Many fellow Moms asked me how I manage to raise a family as a single, full-time working parent and still cook as good as every meal from scratch. I used to refer those people to Lisa’s blog as I find her early work excellent. Why does it bug me, that there is so much false information on this site? If Lisa was a mere private blogger, I could care less. She does not have to justify her believes. However, Lisa and Vani are taking it a step above private blogging. They want to be heard, demand change and try to get others on their boat with false information. I do not think, that they are trying to be deceptive, just a little bit too quick with their writings and conclusions. IMHO, a large readership comes with responsibility and would require a thorough studying of the subjects.

        • Kelly

          Critical Reader says: “any type of critique I have expressed so far was well funded” and then again “the critique I have expressed was well funded”.

          How does a single mom working full time and making 3 square meals from scratch have time to post large replies over and over? Perhaps if said mom is PAID (or “well funded”?) to post such replies.

          The big companies pay people to troll websites like Lisa’s and Vani’s to post messages that break down trust and cause conflict in the reader. As Lisa’s blog grows and the REALFOOD movement gains momentum, the trolling is just going to get worse.

          Readers of 100days: PLEASE don’t let the big “food” companies win again! Feel free to do your own research and then, if you agree with Lisa, come back and sign her petition.

          The bottom line is this: Kraft has the ability to manufacture foods that contain real ingredients for Americans, but choose not to. Why? (I think we all know that answer to that……)

          • Meredith

            I support Lisa’s efforts, and also appreciate the constructive criticisms of “Critical Reader.” There is nothing more frustrating than a worthwhile cause losing credibility because supporters make claims that aren’t entirely accurate. There are so many factually-sound reasons to support the removal of dyes and chemicals from our food, there is no need to overreach. I agree with nearly every observation Lisa has regarding real food, but while I enjoy Vani’s perspective I’m often uncomfortable with her methodology and the authorities she cites.

          • Critical Reader

            Somebody paying me for posting here – wishful thinking;-)

            The EU allows more artificial dyes in their foods than the US does, but they are not as frequently used in the EU for two reasons. Firstly, consumers won’t buy artificial dyes, so producers are forced to switch to “natural” alternatives like chlorophyll, carotenoids, cochenille, curcumine, etc. (examples: M&Ms are colored with natural dyes in Europe and with artificial dyes in the US; Haribo gummy bears don’t contain any dyes in Europe, but three artificial dyes in the US version). Secondly, US Americans are more drawn to colorful food than their European friends. Do a google picture search with the words “christmas cookies” and “Weihnachtsplaetzchen” (German for christmas cookies), the result is quite impressive.

            I do not criticize Lisa&Vani’s demand for cutting out artificial dyes, but I have a problem with the methodology. The two somewhat imply that food companies are cheating on us, but at the same time I feel cheated and mislead by especially Vani’s articles. They frequently contain wrong and misleading information. Cathy, you might not like my bitching here, but again, please tell me where I am factually wrong with my critique.

            Why were all the exaggerations in this article necessary? Lisa & Vani could have written an excellent article by simply referring to the original “Southampton Study” and checking the laws and practices in both countries. Exaggerations and poor sources made the article weaker than it could have been.

            • Critical Reader – This is where you’ve got YOUR research wrong. Nothing in our article is “exaggerated,” all our references are well documented above, and we purposely did not refer to the Southampton Study because for that study, “Scientists at Europe’s food safety watchdog have completed an assessment of a recent study[1] on the effect of two mixtures of certain food colours and the preservative sodium benzoate[2] on children’s behaviour.” And Kraft Macaroni and Cheese only contains the dyes NOT sodium benzoate. Contrary to your belief Vani and I do actually do our research.

              • LAW

                I have to agree with Critical Reader. When this blog takes an impassioned view (particularly a guest writer here) it always seems to have some information that is not well documented or the conclusion drawn is exaggerated vs the source. I’ll give an example “Causes an increase in hyperactivity.” That is incomplete. They have found it to increase hyperactivity in SOME children who ALREADY have been diagnosed with hyperactivity. Children not already diagnosted with hyperactivity have not been shown to be impacted. Doesn’t mean it’s not a a great idea to get rid of the chemical, but the statement’s not fair and balanced.

                The intent of pointing out all these things is not because we don’t agree with the desire to reduce/eliminate harmful and even questionable ingredients. I fully support it and that’s why I read this blog. (Less, so when I find inflammatory posts like this one.) The point is that when statements are made in that post that a reader who is “on the fence” can find exaggerations or not scientifically proven inferences, then they focus on that and have proven to themselves that the entire concept of natural being healthy is a bunch of overzealous nuts who have too much time on their hands. They are not going to look at the other sources that might be right on target. They want to protect their reality. They look FOR the weak points so that they can dismiss the whole concept. I know this because I was that person.

                And if you want real food options, and options that are affordable, and healthier alternatives for kids whose parents aren’t as informed (as this petition would be a great step in that directio), then the goal is to bring more people into the fold. Telling people if they dont’ like it to get off the blog, defeats that purpose. Preaching to the choir doesn’t advance the goals that blogs like this were created to do. This blog is part of why I converted to whole foods. I’m not sure this article would have swayed me at all. You do a great job at fighting the good fight. This isn’t your best work.

              • Critical Reader

                Yes, it is true, the Southampton study used mixtures of several food dyes and benzoate. Therefore, it is impossible to tell which of the chemicals by itself or which chemical combination is the culprit. The study was enough for the EU to take action and require warning labels of azo-dyes independent of the presence of benzoate. You say, that you did not include the Southampton study, because Kraft’s Mac and Cheese do not contain benzoate. I do not comprehend your conclusion, that the presence of benzoate is necessary for the negative effects. But if you think so, wouldn’t it be logical to re-phrase or better cancel your claim that “Food dyes cause an increase in hyperactivity”? You give the CSPI-report as reference for your hyperactivity claim. Besides the fact, that this report clearly states that “we do not report neurobehavioral toxicity”, in their brief summary about that matter they are citing what? The Southampton study!

                And another two examples of your poor research:

                You: “Food dyes have a negative impact on children to learn”.
                Reference: CSPI-report. BUT: The report does not discuss the learning abilities of children. May I assume, that you cited the wrong reference or is that sentence a product of your imagination?

                You: “Food dyes have been linked to long-term health problems such as asthma, skin rashes, and migraines.”
                Reference: cbcnews online article from 2008 (great source), which states “research has linked it (Yellow 5) to asthma, skin rashes, and migraines” – a reference for that statement is not given.

                The CSPI-report and an EFSA evaluation (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1331.pdf) of Yellow 5 do not support the above statement. However, they both explain, that there are people who are hypersensitive to Yellow 5. I assume, those hypersensitivity reactions were misrepresented in the cbcnews article as “research has linked it to asthma, skin rashes, and migraines.” And you guys had to top it off by adding “long-term health problems” to it. I call that exaggeration.

                I don’t get it, you have a 58-page CSPI-report with plenty of ammunition and you still see the need to exaggerate?

  • Robin jingjit

    Couldn’t have been easier, thank you! I signed

  • Cathey Ashley

    How about Kraft getting rid of the toxic dyes and all of the GMO’s from their product. Sell us the same products that you sell in Great Britain. Be a leader in the food industry, and blaze a path that the American citizens can look to as a large corporation looking out for their customers welfare-rather than their own bottom line. I feel certain that you could accomplish both at the saame time.

  • Tracy tonner

    My family and I prefer to eat foods free of artificial flavors and ingredients. Kraft is a respected company. Please take a stand for your consumers by making delicious foods without the artificial ingredients.

Leave a Reply